Diversity & Democracy: Civic Learning for Shared Futures
Diversity Innovations Curricular Transformation
Diversity Digest Volume 9, Number 2

Diversity Digest
Volume 9,
Number 2

Download our print issue (PDF)
Campus-Community Connections
Intercultural Learning for Inclusive Excellence
Why Allen and Joan Bildner and the Bildner Family Foundation Funded a Statewide Diversity Initiative
Learning to Listen as We Lead
Institutional Models That Cultivate Comprehensive Change
Curricular Transformation
Where Worlds Converge
Curricular Transformation through Collaborative Teaching
Intercultural Learning in First-Year Seminars
Designing Intercultural and Cross-cultural Spaces
Enhancing Collaborative Leadership of Faculty and Staff
Faculty-Driven Curricular Change
Diversity as Shared Practice
Dialogue Groups at Princeton University Library
Faculty Involvement
Epistles, Posters, and Pizza
Forging Campus-Community Connections
"Beyond Food"
Cross-cultural by Design
Student Experience
Something to Declare
Putting Student Voices in Public Spaces
Café Bergen
Institutional Leadership and Committment
Assessing Diversity Attitudes in First-Year Students
Infusing Cultural Competency into Health Professions Education

Curricular Transformation through Collaborative Teaching

By Tim Haresign, associate professor of biology, the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

For the last three years, Professor Sonia Gonsalves and I have been codirectors of the Bildner Diversity Initiative at the Richard Stockton College. The project’s main objective is to create a more inclusive environment and foster a deeper understanding of issues relating to diversity at Stockton. Our principal strategy for change was curricular transformation with a focus on incoming freshmen. We felt that if we got to students early, we could have a significant effect on their perceptions of “the other.”

If successful, this change in perception would have effects that went well beyond any individual course: it could change the way the students understood and approached issues in other courses, affect how the students selected courses, and alter how students interacted across differences. The effects would also go beyond the individual student. The cognitive and affective gains made by these freshmen could have a large impact throughout their college careers as they interacted with others in classes, dorms, clubs, and organizations.

We began with a strategy of infusing diversity in regular freshman seminar classes but made a mid-course change and used diversity as an organizing principle for our new multi-section freshman course, Diversity Issues. The course was collaboratively taught, with up to seven different instructors teaching during the semester. All of the faculty agreed to use one common reading amidst the various individualized syllabi and to discuss gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, and religion in that order. The faculty also agreed to include an experiential requirement in which students were to seek out people from different racial or ethnic backgrounds.

Faculty were given a rich array of resources (books, articles, Web sites, videos, model assignments, grading rubrics, etc.) on both diversity and student-centered pedagogy, all supplemented by summer workshops. Faculty also learned how to incorporate service learning into the curriculum, and the Office of Service Learning provided service-learning placements for faculty who wanted to use them. Faculty could choose to use these resources as they saw fit. The only other requirements were that all instructors would teach the course during the same time module (same days of the week and same times of day), use the assessment instruments we provided, and share course materials with each other. The process of planning and teaching this course with a group of diverse faculty members created a de facto learning community focused on the pedagogy of teaching diversity, which served as a mutual support network as we moved through the semester.

The common time module allowed us to bring all the classes together for outside speakers. It also allowed for subsets of instructors to experiment with different types of inter-classroom interaction, such as bringing two classes together for a debate, assigning inter-class group work, or even swapping instructors for a day to offer students a different instructional perspective. We also worked closely with student affairs to put together a calendar of diversity-related extracurricular events. All faculty made this information available to the students, and some also incorporated attendance at these events into the course, either as requirements or for extra credit. Our Office of Student Services creates cocurricular transcripts for any students who request them (see intraweb.stockton.edu/ultra). These transcripts allow professors to track attendance at extracurricular events.

There were a large variety of pedagogies employed across the sections, but the unifying ones were discussion and reflection. Classroom work focused on discussion, both in small groups and with the whole class. Almost all of the experiential learning the students were involved in was reinforced and evaluated through the use of reflective writing. In these assignments students were expected to critically evaluate the information they were getting and to reflect on their perceptions and feelings about the experience.

Our assessment showed that the course was successful in increasing awareness of issues related to diversity and difference, but the students had trouble connecting this understanding to specific cases, either in their personal life or in the world at large. For this reason, in the spring of 2006, we will be piloting a second-semester freshman course entitled Transcending Differences. This collaboratively taught course will be specifically designed for students who have already taken Diversity Issues. In Transcending Differences, we will go deeper into issues raised in the first course through the use of deliberative dialogue tecniques and case studies.

Questions, comments, and suggested resources should be directed to campbell@aacu.org.
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